The analogy that Hollywood is like high school rang true in the seating arrangements at the Beverly Hilton “cafeteria” Wednesday night.
Adam Fogelson, fired as chairman of Universal Pictures on Sept. 9 after arriving home from the Toronto Film Festival premiere of “Rush,” surfaced publicly for the first time at the Fulfillment Gala, a benefit for the educational assistance program for L.A. high school students.
As a co-chair of the event with his wife Hillary, they had a prime seat at a round top in the pit of the International Ballroom. By choice or by chance, they sat with their backs to the long rectangular “head table” planted two tables over amidst the sea of round-tops.
The lineup at that head table: the axe swingers.
Ron Meyer sat next to Steve Burke (above), who sat next to Peter Chernin. Fogelson’s replacement, Jeff Shell (below right, with Kenny Rogers), sat two seats further down from Chernin.
Slated long before Fogelson’s unceremonious dismissal, fellow co-chairs for the event honoring illumination CEO Chris Meledandri included ex-colleagues like Donna Langley (with Ramin Shamshiri) and both Kelly and Ron Meyer.
Other captains of the industry like Skip Brittenham, Chernin, and Mark Gordon also filled the masthead.
Though broadly supported across the industry – former honoree Jim Gianopulos was back in the ballroom where the Hollywood Film Awards took place 48 hours earlier – it was an NBCU heavy night, beginning with the Comcast NBCUniveral peacock branding on the step-and-repeat in the lobby.
Kudos to Fogelson for following through for philanthropy. They typically raise $2 million at this annual event.
The bowtied Ed Helms, who got his animation wings in Illumination’s “The Lorax,” hosted.
I sell these (ornaments) on Etsy. I’m glad to see my business is thriving,” Helms joked.
The invite said “business attire,” and for king-of-the-summer-song Pharrell Williams’ “his actual business attire was jeans, boots, blinding jewelry, and a ton of humility.”
“They could not be honoring a better guy,” Williams said of his seat-neighbor Meledrandi. “I’m 40 and I get to work on animation. This guy makes dreams come true.”
Pharrell opened his set with “Happy”, from Illumination’s “Despicable Me 2”. For that all-ages song, he cast backup dancers and singers from Fulfillment Fund constituency Hamilton High School. Williams then ordered everyone out of their seats for “Blurred Lines”. The chicken-and-shrimp-stuffed crowd obliged.
Sidney Poitier, another of the night’s honorees, kept it short and serious.
The Fullfillment Fund provides L.A. students with counseling, mentoring, scholarships, and other support to help them get in to and complete a college education. The secondary school program has an impressive track record: over 90% of Fulfillment Fund graduates go on to college.
Pharrell Williams, Dave Grohl, Steve Carrell, and Ed Helms fill the Fulfillment Fund
297 People Who Will Be Hungover on Thursday, say the hosts
Meanwhile over on Beverly Blvd., Buzzfeed uploaded dramatic lighting, a DJ, and deleted the newsroom furniture for an office-warming bash for their new L.A. home.
Buzzfeed managing editor Erica Futterman and executive editor Doree Shafrir in what is normally a workspace.
The most surprising thing about the two-story open space that houses the site channeling nearly 90 million unique visitors a month: you can’t see any wires anywhere. Apparently, it’s all in the floor of the former beauty supply warehouse.
The second most surprising thing: they rarely patronize El Coyote, whose neon sign flashes directly in to their office.
OMG, it looks – literally – like “1 fun place to work.”